GRASS LAKE, MI – Joey Cabana placed two wires into pegs on a circuit board. After some code tweaking, a small, blue light began to glow, seemingly in sync with the excitement that lit up the 10-year-old’s eyes.
This LED light experiment is part of George Long Elementary School’s latest program focused on STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math subjects.
STEM teacher Mike Arbuckle has brought these science and engineering-focused programs into George Long classrooms. Arbuckle also has helped the school become the only school in Michigan to launch a platform called Ardusat.
“A lot of schools are doing STEM-related things, but we are the only school in Michigan blending STEM it into the daily curriculum,” he said.
Ardusat provides an interactive platform focused toward STEM that gives instruction on how to run experiments in the classroom. According to Arbuckle, the platform provides hands-on tools for students to design and run their own experiments using sensors.
George Long wrote a grant to the the district’s education foundation to fund these projects. Arbuckle also flew to the company’s headquarters in Salt Lake City to work on bringing Ardusat into elementary schools, not just high schools.
At George Long, students in third through fifth grades are exposed to the STEM program once a week for one hour. Students also have the opportunity to sign up for the after-school STEM program, which covers more advanced topics such as forensics, bridge building and coding.
Fourth-grader Kayla Wolfinger, 10, thinks it’s important to learn these skills at her age.
“I think STEM is awesome,” she said. “It’s really smart that they’re teaching us these things early on and I’ll probably want to do more of it in middle school.”
“It’s amazing that these kids can do coding and programming probably as good or better than high school kids,” Arbuckle said. “There are so many jobs in STEM that haven’t been created yet that eventually will, and I’m excited the kids will have some experience with that.”